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Colorado Steps Up Seatbelt Enforcement With a Slew of Tickets

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

Colorado law enforcement agencies recently launched a coordinated effort to push drivers and their passengers to get serious about buckling up.

Cops issued nearly 1,600 tickets statewide to drivers for not properly wearing seatbelts – or having passengers in their cars who were not buckled up – during a recent three-week stretch. About 120 of those tickets went to drivers who were found to have children in their cars who were not properly restrained.

“It is worth making the decision to buckle up, a decision that can only benefit your safety in the event of a crash,” Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard said in a statement following the “click it or ticket” campaign.

 “Whether you are a driver or a passenger, it only takes a few seconds to put on your seatbelt and consciously make an effort to protect your life in a vehicle,” Packard continued.

Roughly 87% of all drivers and passengers across the state wear seatbelts in cars and other vehicles, according to data compiled by the Colorado Department of Transportation. That is below the national average of nearly 92%.

The latest “click it or ticket” campaign was launched to mark the beginning of the summer season, in which traffic swells across Colorado. Law enforcement officers are also expected to boost enforcement of drinking and driving laws as Coloradans and visitors hit the road in increasing numbers.

Seat belts save as many as 15,000 lives nationwide every year, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show. The safety devices could save another 2,500 people per year if used, according to NHTSA.

Why Buckle Up?

Seatbelts perform a vital safety function primarily by keeping people in their seats when crashes happen.

Drivers and passengers who are not buckled up are far more likely to be injured or killed than those wearing seatbelts. Unbuckled people may be thrown around in the vehicle or ejected, a situation that typically ends in catastrophic injury or death. 

More than 26,000 people are killed in car accidents throughout the U.S. every year, the NHTSA data show. Roughly half of those people are not wearing seatbelts, the federal agency estimates.

A person in the front seat of a passenger car, for instance, can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45% by wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up also cuts the risk of a moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.

The benefits increase for drivers and front-seat passengers in light trucks. Buckling up reduces the risk of a fatal injury by 60% and cuts the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.

Functioning airbags are not enough. Airbags and seatbelts are meant to be used in tandem, together reducing risks in the event of a collision. In fact, the force of an airbag can be enough to cause significant injuries to a person in a vehicle who is not properly restrained.

For those who do buckle up, it is vital to make sure you are correctly wearing the seatbelt. That includes using the shoulder belt strap and making sure that the belt is clicked in.

The lap belt should be secured across the pelvis, resting across the hips rather than your stomach. The shoulder belt goes across the rib cage, through the middle of your chest and away from the neck. It should never be placed behind your back or under your arm.

Colorado Car Accidents: Who is to Blame?

Car accidents can and do happen, from low-speed fender benders on neighborhood streets to huge highway pile-ups involving several cars traveling at high speeds. 

When crashes happen, they often raise questions about who is responsible for any injuries that happen as a result. Those questions can become a little more complicated when people who are injured were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Negligent drivers are often to blame in car accidents. Drivers are required under Colorado law to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. That means complying with traffic laws, avoiding distraction, staying off the road when fatigued and refraining from dangerous activity like texting and driving or getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

A driver who does not live up to this responsibility is generally considered liable for any accidents and injuries that happen as a result. The monetary damages typically available in Colorado car accident cases are designed to put an injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in before the crash. That includes compensation for medical bills, property damage and the impact of the injuries on the person’s ability to earn an income.

It is important to understand, however, that Colorado operates under a comparative negligence system. 

That means that a person injured in a crash may have the available compensation reduced if he or she is found partly to blame for the collision or the injuries. As long as the person is found to be no more than 50% responsible for the accident, his or her compensation will simply be reduced based on proportionate fault.

It is vital that anyone injured in a crash seek the advice of a seasoned Colorado car accident lawyer in order to understand your rights and explore your options for maximizing your compensation.

Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run or other crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you take action. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.